Misbah targets New Zealand's shaky top order

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Fernando: Pakistan attack can exploit NZ conditions

When South Africa returned from a 0-3 drubbing in India in 2015, they went on to lose the subsequent home series against England. When Australia returned from a 0-3 drubbing by low-ranked Sri Lanka this year, they went to lose the subsequent (and ongoing) series against South Africa.

New Zealand hope to break the trend; they hope their 0-3 in India will not have a similar effect on their home summer. Misbah-ul-Haq, though, has glimpsed a few weaknesses. He believed his varied attack can bring an ailing New Zealand top order down.

“If you see, after the Indian tour, most of the Kiwi batsmen have been struggling and short of confidence,” Misbah said. “I know this is their own territory and they’ll be confident playing here, but as a batsman, and a cricketer, confidence can play a big role. Being short of confidence – we’ll look forward to exploiting that.”

While New Zealand’s batsmen seek a return to collective form, Pakistan’s own top order must resist the likes of Trent Boult and Tim Southee on Hagley Oval’s green top. Pakistan did win two Tests in England this year, but both those matches were played in London, where pitches were less seam-friendly than elsewhere. It had, in fact, been the legspin of Yasir Shah that defined the Lord’s Test, as well as playing a crucial role in the second innings at The Oval. Tracks in New Zealand have not been so spin friendly recently.

“If you look at the UAE conditions and New Zealand conditions, these are totally different,” Misbah said. “That’s the biggest challenge for us, especially for our batting. Most of our players have been to New Zealand before, and they know how these conditions can be different from what we are used to. We need to make sure that we bat with discipline and put good scores on the board. Our bowling is very much capable of performing well in any sort of conditions.”

There may be rain in the air in Christchurch, but Pakistan had also had their three-day practice match in Nelson completely washed out, meaning their preparation in New Zealand has been less than ideal. Misbah said his team would fall back on their recent experience in England, and hoped the lessons learned on that tour would hold true here.

“The England series was a tough series for us. That experience will really help us here, because of the confidence we gained from that. The players are up for this challenge, and we can prove ourselves here also. We need to learn some things from that tour – those conditions, and how we go about business. How we’ve batted, how our disciplines are, and how we’ve bowled.

“It’s going to be a key for us because we missed the practice game here. A couple of practice sessions are the only experience we’ve got before the Test match. As professionals, we need to use that information and be ready enough for the Test.

If India lose the series against England, Pakistan have an opportunity to reclaim the no. 1 Test ranking they had briefly held following Australia’s loss in Sri Lanka. Misbah said the prospect continued to spur his team.

“Always the no. 1 ranking is a big motivation. If you play any sport, you want to be the best. That’s what we are looking forward to. That said, we need to improve ourselves every game. Every series and game becomes important for us. Looking forward to playing well in this series and in Australia.”

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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